Crack Down (US Gold) Review | Zzap - Everygamegoing


Crack Down
By U. S. Gold
Amiga 500

Published in Zzap #60

Crack Down

Flushed with his success creating a breakfast cereal, Dr. K has decided to take over the world. Secure within his gothic castle he has created an army of genetically engineered soldiers to accomplish his mad ambition. All that stands in his way are the terrible twosome - Andy Attacker and Ben Breaker. Sounding like a pair of cartoon characters to promote 'Special K', they must progress through the sixteen levels of K's castle, placing at least three explosives on each.

To be effective the explosive must placed in the correct positions, but thankfully Dr. K's interior decorator has placed large 'X's to mark these. They also show up on your radar scanner, which can be vital for finding your way through the mazes, with just three minutes per level. The main screen is divided into two: one half for each player, with an overhead, Gauntlet-style perspective.

Of course, each level is packed with K's goose-stepping soldiers who are weighed down with weapons such as pistols, machine guns, and even flamethrowers. Thankfully our daring duo are not pacifists, and begin the game with rocket launchers. If these run out of ammo, they can switch to machine-guns or - as a last resort - fists and feet. They can even use smart bombs. Refills for the weapons can be found in boxes scattered around the corridors. You can also flatten yourself against walls, to sneak along without being hit. Later on in the game there are poisonous rivers, lava puzzles, and some nasty traps to beat.


I'm a big fan of two-player games - and this month we've had more than our fair share with Pipemania and E-motion; both excellent. But I'm afraid CrackDown left me cold. Admittedly, US Gold have done a fine job with the conversions, but the coin-op wasn't that hot to start with; just a souped-up Gauntlet, really.

I found it frustratingly hard to get into, especially as you can never hit the smart bomb key in time - surely holding down fire would have been a better way to trigger them?

Still, both Robin and the Scorelord really enjoyed blasting all those androids, and technically both versions are quite impressive. The Amiga game is particularly good value at just £20 for virtual arcade perfection. Worth considering if you like this type of game.


I'm amazed just how close the Amiga translation is with the looks, quality, and feel of the coin-op. Progression through the levels is rewarded with significantly different graphics, some stunning effects and gameplay changes making it one of the best two-player games for the 16-bits that I've seen.

CrackDown works extremely well on a technical level, more so on the C64 with smooth scrolling and fast paced action to match - the collision detection is a little suspect but it makes for a little more lenient game.

The C64 game is let down a little by the lack of extensive colours per level although this is compensated for by some superb static backgrounds and a general variety in the graphic style throughout - look out for the System 24 chip on level eight; well worth fighting through to see!


US Gold have produced yet another first-class conversion with this one. While the C64's sprites are a bit blocky, the backgrounds are very good indeed and move surprisingly fast - even in two-player mode. The variety within the four levels per load is excellent.

I particularly like the junk yard's mangled cars as well as the conveyor belts and deadly lava flows on the later levels. Of course, the Amiga version has more detail; the swinging wrecking balls in the junk yard, a sign you have to knock over, and the way your sprites shrinks as he falls down a gap. In fact, the graphics are virtually arcade perfect - though they still don't really push the Amiga. I think the C64's are more impressive for the host machine, although Robin would disagree.

What we do agree on is that the Amiga game is the hardest - you have much less ammo for the weapons, and the machine gun is much less effective than the cannon. This makes it a bit harder to get into, but improves lastability.

CrackDown's gameplay is clearly second-generation Gauntlet, with the need to plant bombs, collect ammo and the 'sneak' feature making for a much more cohesive and involving game than simply finding keys to exit all those dungeons. What's more, the levels contain a surprising amount of variety, and the different layouts force you to use different tactics.

What I think is particularly good is how, in two-player mode, you can compete with each other over score - but the joint bonus depends on you both getting out together. On the first levels you can race to plan the few bombs needed, but later on co-operation is essential.


Presentation 80%
Nice loading screen, simultaneous two-player option, three continue plays, four levels per load.

Graphics 83%
Main sprites are a little blocky, but the backgrounds are great, with plenty of detail and variety.

Sound 81%
Some really good in-game tunes, although the title tune is a bit naff.

Hookability 90%
Couldn't be easier to get into...

Lastability 87%
...while sixteen levels of a-maze-ing action provide a generous amount of entertainment.

Overall 88%
A great conversion and an extremely playable game.


Presentation 88%
Intro, two modes of scrolling - one centred on the player, the other anticipating movement, simultaneous two-player option.

Graphics 90%
Quite a bit of variety, some good detail and scrolling.

Sound 86%
Arcade sampled FX and some good music.

Hookability 85%
A bit hard to start with, takes more practice to get into than the C64.

Lastability 91%
Lots of levels with plenty of variety mean this will take some completing.

Overall 90%
An arcade-perfect conversion which rewards persistence.